Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi speaking during the Kompasianival event in South Jakarta on Saturday (08/10). (Photo courtesy of Kompasianival)

Digital Diplomacy a New Way to Solve Problems: Foreign Minister


OCTOBER 09, 2016

Jakarta. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has emphasized the importance of social media as a tool for diplomats to obtain timely information and to represent Indonesia abroad.

"It is impossible for diplomats not to take advantage of social media in this [digital] era," Retno said in her opening speech at the Kompasianival event in South Jakarta on Saturday (08/10).

Retno said technology, amazing teamwork, and officials' responsibility are keys to solving diplomacy problems. But quoting from Tom Fletcher's book "Naked Diplomacy," she said diplomats need to adjust the way they work and adapt to the current demands of the digital era, which involves diplomacy on social media.

The minister said the main benefits of digital diplomacy are speed, accuracy and honesty.

"The biggest mistake is if we're not on social media to do some diplomacy," Retno said. She added that joining social media platforms to actively conduct diplomacy is inevitable these days.

In the old way, information needed two to three days before it arrived in the hands of a foreign affairs minister. But these days, as the demand for rapid responses and resolutions is always increasing, real-time information has become key when making decisions.

"If Indonesian diplomats can provide real-time reports [on urgent matters such as natural disasters and hostage situations], we [in Jakarta] can immediately analyze what is going on," the minister said. "In performing their duties, the speed of information is a must for every diplomat."

However, Retno said accuracy should not be sacrificed in the push for timely information. Validation of information is always necessary, especially when it involves social media.

"The citizen's trust could decrease if information from the government is not valid," Retno said. "We can't hide in this digital era; that's why honesty is important to tell the public what's really going on."

The minister concluded her speech by saying infrastructure connectivity is important but that connections between humans still remained a major part.